Over at his blog, Deacon Bill Ditewig shares a timely and thought-provoking dream:
The dream? The catholic — truly universal — people of God! Every person who is cut off from everything and everyone else, is WELCOMED by the catholic people of God. In a very real sense, the catholic people of God is the home for the homeless, the family for those who have been disowned and rejected by others, are the ones for whom this church is designed. In the ancient catholic people of God, they were often the ones cut off and persecuted by society and those in charge, often to their deaths. But the ancient catholic people of God rejoiced that they were a people called by God (an “ekklesia theou”), a people without church buildings or temples. What united them and gave them hope and joy was their common faith that God had called them to be a people for each other, PRECISELY because they were cut off from everyone else.
The dream? At Midnight Mass this year, that the doors will open and everyone — absolutely everyone — will walk in to applause, laughter and joy-filled welcome. Those dirty, smelly children of God who are living under the overpass, those depressed and lonely gay teenagers who are walking on the brink of despair, those people who look and sound different from others, and even those who find themselves here without legal status — all of them will pour through those doors and into the welcoming arms of this catholic people of God and find a true home and the love that has so often been denied them by society. “If society has rejected you, we welcome you” is the mission statement of the catholic people of God. And to the bishop who once remarked that the song “All are Welcome” was incorrect, and that all people are NOT welcome at Catholic Mass, I say, “Sorry, bishop, but you are wrong. In the Catholic Church, in the authentic catholic people of God, all are indeed welcome in this place.”
I know. Right now we have many Catholics who don’t even like to reach out and take someone else’s hand at the greeting of peace before communion. Those folks are really not going to like my dream, since not only do I hope that they will shake someone else’s hand, but actually, beginning at Midnight Mass this Christmas, I’m hoping that they will open their arms and embrace tightly that dirty, smelly homeless man who’s been living in a cardboard box down the street from the church. In fact, it is precisely to those who have been excluded by everyone else that Christ is coming into the world.
Read more. It’s worth it.